Cancer death rate in the US declines with 33%


The decline is caused by better treatment options, early detection and a decrease in smoking

A lot of people are – or know someone who is – dealing with cancer. The horrible disease takes thousands of lives every year and is the second leading cause of death in the country. But that might change in the future. According to a report from the American Cancer Society, the numbers for cancer related deaths are going down. 


The drop in numbers started in 1991. Since then, the number of deaths caused by cancer has declined with thirty three percent. Karen Knudsen, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, called the decline “truly formidable.” She told CNN that the reasons for the fall in numbers are “New revelations for prevention, for early detection and for treatment.” In the 20th century, the numbers were still on the rise due to an increase in deaths caused by smoking. Dr. Otis Brawley, oncology professor at Johns Hopkins University, told CNN: “The biggest reason for the decline that started in 1991 was the prevalence of smoking in the United States started going down in 1965…that decline has continued because the prevalence of people smoking in the United States has continued to go down,” And this drop in numbers is accelerating.

According to Dr. Ernest Hawk, vice president of cancer prevention and population sciences at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the numbers show “important and consistent” progress when it comes to fighting cancer. He told CNN: “Cancer is preventable in many instances and detectable at an early stage with better outcomes in many others. When necessary, treatments are improving in both their efficacy and safety. That’s all great news.”

Rising numbers

Even though the death rate is going down, there are certain types of cancer that are on the rise. The numbers for cancers like uterine corpus, breast cancer and prostate cancer are increasing. According to Knudsen, prostate cancer is an “outlier”. She told CNN: “Unfortunately, prostate cancer remains the number one most frequently diagnosed malignancy amongst men in this country, with almost 290,000 men expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year.” One of the reasons why prostate cancer is still the second cause of death for men in the U.S. is because a lot of cases are already advanced. That means that the cancer isn’t caught early and when that happens, treatment options are limited. Even though prostate cancer has a survival rate of 97%. This means that early detection is key in reducing the numbers for prostate cancer.

The five-year survival rate of all cancers has increased since the 1970s. Back then, the survival rate was 49%. Better treatment options and early detection have increased this number to 68% in 2018. Brawley told CNN: “Now, in certain diseases, our ability to treat has improved, and there are some people who are not dying because of treatment.”

Also read: Patients get cancer diagnosis instead of holiday wishes

Source: CNN, American Cancer Society | Image: Pexels, Cottonbro Studio